PC Yvonne Fletcher case: Suspect named by newspaper
- 27 August 2011
- From the section UK
Police investigating the 1984 killing of Pc Yvonne Fletcher need to visit Libya after a new suspect in the case emerged, prosecutors say.
PC Fletcher, 25, was shot dead while policing a protest against the Gaddafi regime at the Libyan embassy in London.
The Daily Telegraph says a report for the Crown Prosecution Service includes a witness account claiming the shooter was diplomat Abdulmagid Salah Ameri.
The Foreign Office says concluding the investigation is a priority.
It says it stands "ready to help" Scotland Yard detectives visit Libya as soon as conditions allow.
BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds says the CPS believes pursuing the case will require detectives to conduct interviews in Libya itself, something which could become easier once the situation in the country has stabilised.
Rebel fighters opposed to Col Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year regime have been fighting loyalist troops since an uprising in February and say they now have almost complete control of the capital Tripoli.
Britain has recognised the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC) as the sole governmental authority for Libya.
No-one has ever been charged with PC Fletcher's murder. While the shots that killed her were fired from inside the embassy, the Libyan staff claimed diplomatic immunity and were deported.
Our correspondent says it is not clear whether the suspect would have to be stripped of diplomatic immunity in order to face prosecution.
According to the Telegraph, a witness statement given by painter and decorator David Robertson to an independent review of the evidence by a Canadian prosecutor claims to have seen a man shooting from the embassy.
The newspaper says junior diplomat Abdulmagid Salah Ameri was identified as the suspected gunman from television footage of staff leaving the embassy at the end of an 11-day siege that followed the shooting.
It quotes the CPS report as saying: "The man was holding the stock of the gun in his right hand, while his left hand was near the trigger area, as if he was about to fire. There were other men with him, with one to his left and at least two others standing behind him.
"Mr Robertson made a comment to someone to his left about the gun and, as he did so, he heard the gun being fired from the direction of the bureau, a 'rapid rat-a-tat-tat' lasting for two or three seconds."
Former police officer John Murray, who was standing next to Pc Fletcher when she was shot, said he was surprised when he saw a suspect's name published.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme he said: "Over the last 27 years every time that I've made urgent requests both to the government and to the Metropolitan Police I've always been told that the investigation is ongoing and there's nothing new to be told.
"Suddenly in the paper today we have this named suspect and there's apparently good evidence against him that he pulled the trigger.
"How long have they known about this? Why hasn't anything been done to date? And why, 27 years later, are we still waiting for this person to be arrested if we've got such good evidence."
The chair of the Libya all Party Parliamentary Group, Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski, said the regime change in Libya meant it was a "wonderful opportunity" to find PC Fletcher's killer.
He said there were protocols under the Vienna convention which would have to be followed in order to bring a suspect with diplomatic immunity to trial and that the UK would have to negotiate with the new Libyan government.
But he said: "I'm sure the new government will be wanting to help the UK in resolving not just this issue, but all the outstanding issues the UK has with the Gaddafi regime."
Asked whether Col Gaddafi's former foreign minister, Musa Kusa - a high-profile defector to the rebels who was debriefed in the UK - would be likely to know who shot PC Fletcher, he said: "I would be amazed if he didn't know who was the key suspect."
Mr Kawczynski added: "We will get to the bottom of this.... We in the UK do not allow killers of our police officers to go unpunished no matter what the time-frame has been between the perpetration of the crime and the current day."
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the government would raise the question of whether a diplomat had been responsible for PC Fletcher's death with Libya's NTC as soon as possible.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police would not comment on the Telegraph's naming of the alleged suspect, but said: "The murder investigation has always remained open and the MPS remains committed to identifying those people responsible for killing WPc Yvonne Fletcher," he said.
"Detectives remain in regular contact with WPc Fletcher's family and update them on developments."